1. Bundoo: What’s “normal” at 8 months, or is there even such a thing? Should babies be sleeping through the night, or is it typical for babies to still be waking up during the night and crying for you?
Answer : Kim West: Many healthy, full-term babies need one full feeding at night if they are sleeping a full 11-12 hours. Know that there is a difference between a complete, full feeding and comfort nursing back to sleep. If your baby is waking several times during the night to nurse back to sleep and feeding well during the day, then it’s likely that your baby is sucking to sleep rather than getting a full feeding. Review your baby’s feeding schedule with your doctor. Here’s a sample schedule.
If you decide to sleep coach, always start at bedtime after a great day of naps — anyway you can get them. This includes using a bouncy chair, swing, rock ‘n play, or even the stroller or car. You can start nap coaching after your first night sleep coaching.
2. Teaching a baby to fall back to sleep on his or her own is a major event. What’s your favorite technique parents can use to help their babies go back to sleep when they wake up in the night?
Answer : I recommend that parents use a sleep coaching method that does not involve a lot of crying. To minimize tears, start sleep coaching at bedtime after a good day of naps, focusing on nighttime sleep.
Many parents get frustrated and want to start sleep coaching mid-night. Don’t do it! Instead, start at bedtime — the easiest time to learn to fall asleep — and remain consistent in your responses through the night until it’s time to wake up.
3. When it comes to “crying it out,” there are lots of strong opinions about it. What’s your opinion on crying it out? Is there a right way to do it, or should parents avoid it completely?
Answer : Whatever sleep coaching method you choose, make sure that you can follow through with consistency. Sleep coaching is all about finding the right match for your family and your baby’s temperament. Personally, I always start gradually, which tends to be gentler.
If you’re already using cry it out and it’s not working, take a few days (or a week) to re-group, and then move to a more gradual sleep coaching method.
If you’re not sure your sleep coaching method is working, I recommend that you monitor your progress this way: if there is no reduction in crying and the length of time it takes your baby to go to sleep in three nights, then stop and re-evaluate.
Before you re-start sleep coaching, be sure to rule out any potential medical conditions that may be interfering with your child’s sleep. If the doctor gives the green light again, start again with a gentler method.
4. If parents have been co-sleeping until now, is this a good time to stop? Alternatively, if a family has been avoiding co-sleeping until now, is it safer at this age to bring baby into the family bed, or will it create a potentially difficult situation later?
Answer : When it comes to co-sleeping, the decision should always be made as a family. If your baby has not already started crawling, consider that they will very soon, and that may change the way you feel about co-sleeping. If you choose to co-sleep, please do so safely: place your mattress on the floor, no soft bedding, tight fitting bottom sheet, and no loose blankets. Remember to keep pillows off the bed or away from baby.
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